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Illegal Immigrants Flee In Face Of New Laws, But To Where?

Paresh Dave |
October 25, 2011 | 5:13 a.m. PDT


Lemin Rodriguez's boss tapped him on the shoulder and offered him a warning a year ago.

The tide against illegal immigration had changed in Arizona. If Rodriguez wanted to make a living in America, he needed to leave Phoenix. He could move back to his native Monterrey, Mexico, return to where he spent his first two years in the U.S. in Kansas City, Missouri or travel to a more welcome confine such as Los Angeles.

Arizona, Alabama, and Georgia have all passed laws to drive away illegal immigrants, leaving the states with a scarcity of cheap labor while potentially creating surpluses elsewhere.

A half-dozen experts on U.S. immigration said it’s impossible to track exactly where the fleeing immigrants end up.

“Just like if you or I had to suddenly move, you would move to a job or somewhere where you know someone,” said Bryan Griffith, a spokesman with the Center for Immigration Studies.

Rodriguez, who now lives on the streets of L.A., doesn’t have any friends or family here. He loves the United States far too much to have any interest in returning to Mexico, where he said employers cheat laborers out of money. At least in America, Rodriguez, 30, knows when he gets a job that he will be rightfully paid, he said. 

But Rodriguez hasn’t found a steady low-skilled job amid a glut of people just like him in L.A. He once earned $200 a day in Kansas City to work on roofing and painting projects. It’s now $80 a day once in a while to move boxes.

With President Barack Obama and Congress making little progress on immigration reform, a handful of states have set out to deter illegal immigration on their own despite the chilling effects on an already sour economy.

Most recently, an Alabama law requiring schools to ask for the immigration status of students reportedly drove hundreds of parents to pull their children out of school. Once the long-term data from Alabama schools can be studied, the law’s effect on the state's estimated 130,000 illegal immigrants will become more clear.

One study that offers some clues to what is happening now comes from the Public Policy Institute of California, which found a 17 percent decline in the Arizona’s illegal immigrant population -- about 92,000 people -- after the passage in 2007 of legislation penalizing employers who failed to verify the immigration status of new hires. (See a map of other states with a similar E-Verify mandate)

The law cut down on the economic opportunities for illegal immigrants, likely ushering them to states such as California and Texas or forcing them into the “underworld” of self-employment. Now the economic opportunities that drew illegal immigrants to Southern and Atlantic states are causing them to give a second look to nearby states such as Tennessee and Florida.

"They are pretty smart and pretty connected," said Ann Garcia, a research assistant for immigration policy at the Center for American Progress. "They wouldn't move to a place where the job market is depressed. Luckily, farm labor is needed all across the country. Anecodtoal evidence shows Americans are not willing to take those jobs."

Despite a 12.4 percent unemployment rate, L.A.'s blue-collar economy is attractive to those who can find a trucker or friend to get them there because its home to immigrant populations from every Latin country imaginable.

“L.A. has the social pull, which might have become more important as the job opportunities dried up elsewhere,” said Sarah Bohn, a PPIC fellow.

The Center for American Progress, which has ties to the Obama administration, is pushing the congressional supercommittee to consider immigration reform as one way of to cut the federal deficit during the next decade. Mayors and business leaders have called for visa reform as a way to stimulate job growth.

Meanwhile, South Carolina could be the next state to see a drop in illegal immigrants. A new enforcement law goes into effect in January unless it is struck down by the courts.

More details on each state's recent immigration laws and their statuses after clicking the map below.

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Anonymous (not verified) on October 26, 2011 6:23 AM

@Dave, the conviction rate for voter fraud is .08%, not even 8%, but .08%. So can you tell me where you get this idea that:

...600,000 registered voters lack a valid driver’s license or state issued identification card. This should not be unexpected since
Texas does not require presentation of identification when registering to vote, with many other states that are in the same flexible
situation. This is outrageously reckless and is apparent throughout this nation, which illegal aliens have been voting.

So how in the world that from 600,000 Texas voters that don't have I.D. to illegal aliens voting. Do you realize your logic is flawed. There is no proof or statement anywhere that says that out of 600,000 voters that even one of them is an illegal alien, From your logic we could just fill in the blank, "600,000 voters without I.D. which left handed people are voting, which people with unvaccinated pets are voting, people who falsely claim dependents on their taxes, are voting. Just as in these analogies there is no substance or logical link between the number of I.D. less Texas voters and illegal aliens voting. Is it possible? Yes. But how many? Three? Fifty? A hundred? Do we have any idea? And if there are illegal immigrants voting is the number significant? Say if it is 20 out 600,000 is it worth the effort to concentrate on this issues? The manpower, the time, the money, the organizing.

You have no figures and no proof if it is significant. And if the statistics of convicted voter fraud are similar nationally to Texas that means 480 committed voter fraud. And how many of them are illegals? Even if say half of them are, that means you and others are willing to make this issue take national attention for 240 people in the state of Texas. By that logic we can find an issue that 100 or 300 people in a state don't comply with and give it attention on a national level. How much sense does this make?

Dave Francis (not verified) on October 25, 2011 3:01 PM

Illegal immigration, E-Verify and Voter Fraud.

The American people, especially citizens need to feel secure, when they vote in 2011. In a recent check by the Texas Secretary of State’s offices, have indicated that 600,000 registered voters lack a valid driver’s license or state issued identification card. This should not be unexpected since Texas does not require presentation of identification when registering to vote, with many other states that are in the same flexible situation. This is outrageously reckless and is apparent throughout this nation, which illegal aliens have been voting. This is proving to be a major problem that is not an isolated case with our federal election system. Time and time again, mostly by Democratic, there have been incidents of voter fraud. The center of our government must do something about this issue, but remain unconcerned with the consequences of illegal aliens voting in a presidential election, specifically through easy access and manipulation of absentee ballots.

The Texas legislature recently passed a bill sponsored by Senator Troy Fraser (R-Horseshoe Bay) which will require voters to show valid ID at the polls, such as a driver’s license, state concealed handgun permit, U.S. military ID or a U.S. passport. But guess what, the regulation is being held up by the Justice Department. The DOJ claims at this time are reviewing the measure on grounds of possible discrimination against minorities. So we have to ask ourselves—will they still be reviewing the law, before another Texas state election or even the presidential 2012 race?

In 2010, the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board released figures showing that during the 2009 fall semester, more than 12,000 illegal aliens paid in-state tuition rates at state schools throughout Texas. Many of them also received taxpayer-funded financial aid, which will be comparable circumstances in California as the state is crippled by overwhelming financial woes. All Sanctuary States that include California and Nevada have not learned the lesson of Arizona, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, Indiana and perhaps Utah to some measure, that even more countless numbers of ECONOMIC illegal aliens will be pouring over those state borders, looking for free money and welfare benefits with compliments of the heavy Democratic officials seated there.

When is our government going to do, what the people say and not the communist founded ACLU, the open border or the special interest groups that thrive in 'K' Street Washington. Is there a line outside with politicians waiting for a clandestine financial hand outs. I personally think the only way that we can change the disastrous direction of the United States is the TEA PARTY. Not the high wealthy rollers as with Rick Perry, nor perhaps Mitt Romney, as they are not true TEA PARTY members, but wealthy candidates, who crave an honest leader in the presidential race. My vote will undeniably go to Herman Cain, or possibly Newt Gingrich or even Michele Bachmann. Our 'Rule of Law' has gone flying out the window, thanks to the leftist view of running a government, but essentially we must contain this giant behemoth or it will be expanded larger than the private section. The Democrats are selling our grand children's future, with higher tax rates, to not only pay for our own share of poverty suffering people, but millions of illegal alien strangers who have flooded this country.

We have a government offering little or no assistance in controlling this lawless welfare virulent disease. What chance do we have of overseeing our own impoverished people, when we are forced by the courts to give foreign people cash payments, medical care, low income housing and other public assistance? Why should a baby of a illegal alien mother get free hospital care, when an American mother no matter their financial standing are hunted down for payment? YOU CANNOT ACCEPT THE LIES SPAWNED FROM THE MOUTHS OF BOTH LIBERALS AND DEMOCRATS, THOSE ILLEGAL ALIENS CANNOT COLLECT CITIZEN AND LEGAL RESIDENT WELFARE BENEFITS.

If you are sick of our incompetent government in Washington, we can change this plan and vote for strictly for House and Senate TEA PARTY representatives for the American people. Not for big corporations, defense industry and the wealthy who have obscured the path of our legislative leaders. Start today by troubling the House and Means politicians, who are reluctant or intentionally delaying the 'The Legal Workforce Act' known as bill (H.R. 2885.) Contact Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) ((202-225-0600) and inform his aids, that you are a voter and you insist of bringing Rep. Lamar Smiths 'The Legal Workforce Act' to the floor in the next session of Congress. Just by harassing these GOP leaders, we can and will empty 8 million illegal alien jobs and return them to American workers.

This is the divisive E-Verify that will literary starve-out illegal immigrant from job placement. E-Verify must not be watered down, but enforced mandatory and with no loopholes for large companies, that seems to be a fact with corporations getting waivers in Obamacare. It’s significant to learn that the 20-25 million illegal aliens already illegally settled here would also get health care from this nationwide plan of this administration. There are plenty of information resources at NumbersUSA, (FAIR) Federation for Immigration Reform, Judicial Watch and hundreds of pro-sovereignty groups.

Really? (not verified) on October 25, 2011 1:11 PM

"Anecodtoal evidence shows Americans are not willing to take those jobs."

DEFINED: non-scientific observations or studies, which do not provide proof but may assist research efforts

So your just making this up as you go? Using the big words to mislead the general public?

Woody (not verified) on October 25, 2011 12:59 PM

I hope that all the illegals who won't leave our country end up in Los Angeles. Let's see how well your compassion and limited resources take care of their basic needs, medical care, education, and crime.

rked (not verified) on October 25, 2011 11:24 AM

The Center for American Progress, which has ties to the Obama administration, is pushing the congressional supercommittee to consider immigration reform as one way of to cut the federal deficit during the next decade
evidently the obama clan doesn't have any SHAME!!!--the super committee was inacted to lower the deficit, but now obama is gonna use them to get some back-door amnesty!!!???!!--that is just sssooooo WRONG in so many ways, especially since we've been so OVERRUN by Illegals that the last thing we need is MORE to support!!!--please explain how obama & his crooks plan to say that more ILLEGALS is going to reduce the deficit when in fact its clear that they COST much more that they give back!!!--i pray that obama is sent packing in nov.!!!--don't think this country can stand much more of his "leadership"...!!!

numbersUSA.org and/or immigration911.org--Stop the Stupidity!

Depression (not verified) on October 25, 2011 10:41 AM

good , i'm glad your fleeing our state of arizona , if we've gotten 17 % we've still got more work to do ... i don't care where you go , just leave our state , let the other states suffer your burden ..

CAES (not verified) on October 25, 2011 9:25 AM